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Poll: Israelis Ask US Jews' Views. Headline: Not!

Poll: Israelis Ask US Jews' Views. Headline: Not!

Image: Israelity Blog

Here’s a kind of wonderfully dopey news item that appeared in the Jerusalem Post last week and then was reposted at The Tablet. That is, the news itself was perfectly legitimate, but the reporting and headlines—that is, the part that will stick in the mind of your average reader—was something else.

The news: Israelis were polled on the question of whether or not Israel’s leaders should take into account the views of American Jews on the peace process. The responses broke down roughly in thirds: 31.9% said “not at all,” 33.6% said “to a small extent” and 31% said “to a great extent” (that last was divided into 21.6% “to a great extent” and 9.4% “to a very great extent). If I remember my 4th Grade arithmetic, that comes to roughly two-thirds (64.6%) saying “yes” and one-third (31.9%) saying “no.” Logically, then, the headline and lead paragraph should inform us that Israelis, by a two-to-one margin, want their government to take the views of American Jews into account to a greater or lesser extent. Make sense?

You’d think. In fact, the June 18 headline in the Jerusalem Post headline read: “32% of Israelis believe US Jews should stay out of peace process.” The lead paragraph read:

Tablet was even better. Its June 21 headline read: “Israelis to U.S. Jews: Stay Out of Peace Process.”

A subheading beneath it read: “Poll reveals Israelis don’t want leaders considering American Jews’ positions.” The lead sentence (with a link to the Jerusalem Post article) read: “A new poll reveals that Israelis would prefer American Jews mind their own business.” It went on to quote the Jerusalem Post’s figures.

Think I’m misreading the poll’s results? Consider this: The poll found that 66.3% of Israelis see the American Jewish community “as having a very or somewhat positive influence on Israel’s national security,” according to the post. That’s roughly the same number that wants their government to take American Jewish views into account.

The Post reported that the poll

That’s the same Nachman Shai who won fame as the voice of the IDF on CNN during the first Gulf War and later became head of the Israel office of what’s now the Jewish Federations of North America. He’s now a Labor party Knesset member.

Also from the Post story:

Written by

J.J. Goldberg

J.J. Goldberg

Jonathan Jeremy Goldberg is Editor-at-Large of the newspaper The Forward,[1] where he served as editor in chief for seven years (2000-2007). He served in the past as U.S. bureau chief of the Israeli news magazine Jerusalem Report, managing editor of The Jewish Week of New York, as a nationally syndicated columnist in Jewish weeklies, as editor in chief of the Labor Zionist monthly Jewish Frontier, as world/national news editor of the daily Home News (now the Home News Tribune) of New Brunswick, New Jersey, and as a metro/police-beat reporter for Hamevaker, a short-lived Hebrew-language newsweekly published for the Israeli émigré community in Los Angeles.

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